Human memory is something that fascinates me greatly. How much of what we remember is true, and how much of it is influenced by emotions, other people’s versions of events, and how much is lost over time?
Today I tried to remember some of my most treasured memories, and it’s a bit of a surprise that I can remember only three. I don’t exactly know why I value these memories the most, but here they are. I searched my mental index for valuable scenes in my life, and these are what I came up with.
I think it was around seven in the evening then, and I had just finished one of my classes in UP. As per usual, I had to walk a short distance from the Asian Center to the jeepney bay for Katipunan. I say short, but at seven in the evening, with no one else around, it has the tendency to feel like the longest walk of my life.
That night the street was empty save for me, backpack slung over my shoulder, feet not daring to stop lest someone jump out and grab me. There were very few cars passing by, and the street lamps were pathetic to say the least.
And then I got to the corner of the Sunken Garden, and I saw one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. Trees, lit up by thousands of fireflies, the orange glow burning the darkness into oblivion. Metro Manila is so polluted that fireflies aren’t even supposed to be here, but there they were.
I was in the driver’s seat, as always, strapping myself in with the seatbelt that occasionally threatens to choke me. My dad was seated beside me. We’d just been to the hospital; doctor’s appointment for a quick checkup. It was nearing lunch, but we were expected back home and couldn’t stop to grab a bite. On the way to the parking lot, I stopped to buy two asado rolls.
When I handed the rolls to him and told him to eat so he wouldn’t get hungry as we inched our way through Manila’s traffic jam, the silence in the car got so eery that I had to actually stop and look at him to ask what was wrong.
And then, in a very quiet voice, he said: “you really care about me”.
And I laughed, and tried to say, “of course”, but his face was such a mixture of surprise and gratitude that the words got lost somewhere in my trachea and never made it out.
Quezon Avenue, on our way to Tomas Morato for a bite to eat and something to drink. Four of us. Me driving, with three of my friends and our usual banter. Then Jason turns the radio on, and I’m slightly irritated, because I hate DJs and their stupid small talk, but what should come on but Stevie Wonder’s “Part Time Lover”.
We started singing, and not one of us could actually sing it properly, but by the time we got to the chorus we were all so pumped that it didn’t matter.
Then the song ended, and it was like nothing happened.
I turned the radio off.